Crafts: Quick Little Purse / Tote Bag

Goodness, I’ve been remiss in posting. My computer pooped out recently (shiny new one is now in use), and the other person who does my job at work went and broke her wrist, so I’ve been a little busy there. But not too busy for a little weekend crafting!

I was at the IKEA and saw that they had some cool fabrics for cheap, so I figured I’d throw down a little purse.

The plain yellow and blue were on sale for something crazy like $2.99 per yard. The colorful pattern was $6.99 per yard, which seems about average for the IKEA home decor fabrics. I ended up using a quarter-yard of pattern, a quarter-yard of yellow, and maybe an eighth of a yard of blue. So the total cost of fabrics used was under five bucks.

First, figure out what size you want your bag. I opted for a smaller purse size, but you could use the same methods to make a big ol’ tote bag. Note that these aren’t perfect squares — they get narrower toward the top. That’s because when you pinch the bottom corners (where those cutouts are), it’ll make the bottom less wide. By narrowing as you go up, it makes the bag less top-gappy. I cut these pieces (floral for the outside, yellow for the lining) with the fold of the fabric along the bottom. Makes one less seam to sew, and the bottom will be sturdier as one piece without a seam.

I opted to use the yellow for the lining because it’s bright. Ever have a purse with a black lining? Makes it hard to see things and find things. Although you could use a darker color if that’s how you roll. I’m not here to judge.

Next, I cut a long strip, 5 inches wide, for the strap. I also cut a couple of rectangles for inside pockets. You can do pockets, or not — depends on if you like pockets. I made sure that both pockets are the right size for my cell phone.

I took the strap piece, folded it in half, and pressed. Then I folded the ends inward again and pressed. Stitch along the side, and you have a finished strap. I also stitched along the folded side, so I had a line of stitching down each side. I just like the look. For the pockets, I folded in about a half-inch on every side, and pressed.

Stitch the top fold of the pocket down, then pin the pocket to the inside of your lining. Then stitch along the other three sides. Easy peasy. One of my pockets didn’t need its top edge stitched, because I cut it along the finished edge of the fabric. I wish I’d done that with both — it was a happy accident.

Pin the sides of the bag together, right sides together. Stitch the sides. Do the same with the lining, right sides together.

Now, the corners. Grab the inside points of the cutouts and pull — it’ll flatten out your corners in a kind of fish-mouth-looking way. Then, as you can see on the floral piece, stitch across the fish mouth to make a nice squared corner.

Time to put everything together, which means time to figure out how long you want your strap. I made mine of a length that I could sling it over my shoulder, or I could wear it cross-body. I just binder-clipped the strap in place and checked it out in a mirror until I liked the length.

Stuff the lining (right sides OUT) inside the body (right sides IN, so the right sides of the lining and body are touching). Also, stuff the strap inside, between the two layers. Pin everything securely and stitch around the top, leaving two or three inches open. I like to put two pins really close to each other on either side of the hole, as a reminder to not zone out and end up sewing the whole thing. Saves embarrassment, and time spent with the little seam-ripper.

Gently pulling everything through that two or three inch gap, flip the whole thing right-side-out. You can see the hole I left where the outside and the lining are connected. All this while, you’ll be wondering, Did I get the correct sides together? Is this going to work? This is the weirdest thing ever. Then you pull everything through that little hole, and it’s like magic.

Stuff the lining down inside the bag, make sure your seam is nice and neat, then stitch around the top. This both closes up the hole you used to flip it around, and also makes everything neat and tidy.

And there you go! A handy-dandy purse to carry all of your ladythings. Or your manthings, if that’s how you roll. You could also install a snap at the top, if that makes you feel more secure. And what would be better than using some of the scraps of fabric to create a matching sleeve for your tablet or phone?

On a final note, please don’t ever try to lay out anything crafty without a spotter to make sure everything’s soft, cozy, and thoroughly covered with hair.